MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — After an early exit from the NCAA Tournament, WVU women’s soccer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is already looking ahead to what the fall will hold for the Mountaineers.
There’s plenty of reason for optimism: nearly all of her roster is eligible to return next season, including five of the team’s six All-Big 12 honorees.
Izzo-Brown is reminding those returning Mountaineers that they have some unfinished business to take care of in the fall.
“I’m pretty optimistic, so I’m gonna put a lot of pressure on them — it’s all on them — to come back and continue how we left off,” Izzo-Brown said last week in an exclusive interview for the WVU Coaches Show.
West Virginia’s 2020 season spanned nine months and continued into 2021. During that time, the Mountaineers proved again that they’re one of the top teams in women’s college soccer, but also came up short in a few key moments.
In the fall, West Virginia placed second in the Big 12 after losing to TCU in a decisive game on the final day of conference play. Then in the spring, Izzo-Brown’s team defeated multiple ranked opponents and earned the No. 5 seed at the NCAA Tournament and a first round bye.
But West Virginia’s postseason run ended before it really began, as it fell to Rice 1-0 in the second round on a second half penalty kick.
Still, Izzo-Brown reflects glowingly on the outcome of this long and challenging season, noting that her team showed a lot of growth throughout.
“I love coaching. I love developing. It’s my passion,” Izzo-Brown said. “Just to see them and watch how they execute their development, individually and then as a team, was so fun for me.”
But the rest of the Mountaineer roster will likely return in the fall, including Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jordan Brewster and All-Big 12 First Team honoree Alina Stahl.
In fact, West Virginia will likely return all-conference honorees at every position except goalkeeper: Brewster and Nicole Payne in defense, Lilly McCarthy at midfield and Stahl and Lauren Segalla at forward.
It’s also likely that reigning Big 12 champ TCU will remain West Virginia’s biggest competition next season. The Horned Frogs featured the league’s offensive player of the year in Grace Collins, goalkeeper of the year in Emily Alvarado and freshman of the year in Marz Akins last fall. TCU coach Eric Bell, who was named the conference’s top coach, is set to return a full complement of talented veterans as the Horned Frogs begin their title defense.
TCU defeated WVU 1-0 at home on Nov. 6 to clinch its first Big 12 regular season title and the league’s automatic NCAA berth. While the Mountaineers bowed out of the tournament in the second round, the 4-seed Frogs advanced to the round of eight, where they were eliminated by Virginia, falling one victory shy of the College Cup.